Arts and Entertainment

The Screening Room | In the beginning, there was 10,000 B.C. ... and the world saw it was not so good

If anything proves the point that looks can be deceiving, “10,000 B.C.” is it.

Down to its name the movie begs to be measured in epic proportions, but the only epic thing about the flick is its green-screen action time, which after nearly two hours becomes a mind-numbing parade of digital effects as exciting as a blase blind date.

The celluloid snoozefest follows D’Leh (an easy-on-the-eyes Steven Strait who’s valiant thespian efforts prove ultimately futile) as he journeys far from home to save the woman he loves and keep his village from being extinguished by civilizations bigger than their own.

Though D’Leh pulls off what could be described as the biggest cinematic slave coup depicted since “Ben Hur,” his story fails to register, and the writing at times puts a cringe on your face like you’ve just discovered your beard for the evening is still spinning REO Speedwagon in his teal Geo Prism.

By far the most redeeming parts of this epic flub are the green-screen creations, CGI works of animalistic art that bring the only whiffs of excitement and surprise to the table. As D’Leh tracks the tribe of slave drivers who have kidnapped his beloved Evolet (Camilla Belle), he faces breathtaking wooly mammoths, a saber-toothed tiger and some startling voracious ostriches that would have been better spent appearing on the island of ABC’s “Lost.” But alas, all of these big screen blockades are slain with the muscly thrust of a spear, and the Apocalypto-wannabe blunder reverts back to its predictably weary ways.

Belle, who’s sharpened her acting chops in the past against greats like Daniel Day-Lewis (“The Ballad of Jack and Rose”), is potential talent wasted, always being jostled by one pair of burly, half-clothed brutes or another, and the script has dialogue even Samuel L. Jackson would reject.

At one point D’Leh leans to his damsel in primordial distress and says “I’ll never leave you again,” only to call out to her not three minutes later “I will come back for you, I promise.”

No wonder they faced extinction.

D’Leh’s entire journey leads to a final battle of seemingly fantastic proportions, until it is stopped so short the audience is sent reeling.

Directed by Roland Emmerich (“The Day After Tomorrow,” “Independence Day”), and written by Emmerich and Harald Kloser, “10,000 B.C.” palpably attempts to breathe life into a people now vanquished, and instead falls colossally flat.

But the point this failing picture makes is certainly far from moot.

Like even the most buzzed-about silver screen depictions of the greatest of civilizations — or a really bad date — there are just some moments in our history we should never resurrect.


Check your corners.

That’s one of the many things viewers learn after watching “Doomsday,” Neil Marshall’s deadly virus gore flick that hit theaters this weekend.

Other lessons?

You should never trust a furious quarantine zone survivor, and bad guys with mohawks are never really as hard to outrun as they seem.

Oh yeah, and don’t mess with Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra).

The girl’s got some issues.

“Doomsday” enters the overcrowded realm of contagion cinema with a bloody, bloody bang.

Just ask the cute little rabbit pulverized by a machine gun for venturing for some carrots too close to danger.

But despite taking a crack at an effort made many times over, “Doomsday” makes an impact, one with understated humor that leaves its audience jonesin’ for a car chase and a good cigarette.

It’s set in Great Britain in the near future, when much of Scotland’s population has been quarantined and left for dead after the spread of the Reaper Virus.

But years after the British government assumes the plague is dead and gone, it once again raises its ugly, bubonic head, this time threatening the whole of society, and Eden Sinclair is issued a challenge: Go back into the hot zone and find the cure, because P.S., we’ve been hiding the fact that there are survivors from this virus’ first graveyard go-round.

Eden and her crew venture across the quarantine border, where, surprise-of-all-surprises, a ragtag group with a bone to pick is happy to offer a bloody, bashing welcome.

What’s left of Glasgow has become a place of “social disorder,” better described as the breeding ground for drugs, sex and rock and roll. Oh yeah, and cannibalism, natch.

The survivors are led by Saul, one radical bad guy in a world of chaos, anarchy, fishnets and fire who at one point actually tosses plates to a hungry crowd in pure rock star fashion as they hoist a man above an oversized barbecue, tongues wagging for white meat.

(It was at this point a distinguished elderly couple excused themselves from the theater and did not return.)

But Eden isn’t intimidated by the Lost Boys gone wild, and she manages to find Kane (Malcolm McDowell), who is believed to have the key to outliving the plague.

“In the land of the infected, the immune man is king,” is Kane’s veiled “buzz-off” to Eden, so the born-to-be-bad powerhouse manages to travel between worlds of medieval warfare, post-apocalyptic raves, gas masks and marshall law, all the while leaving a series of awesome explosions and bloody body parts in the wake of one sick set of wheels.

In a genre where the killer disease is a widespread lack of ingenuity, “Doomsday” takes the bloody cake but, takes itself just seriously enough to make the audience’s time worthwhile.


In the mood for more ancient civilization entertainment? Check out “The Ruins,” a modern-day story about four 20-something travelers caught by an ancient Mayan curse in the remote jungles of Mexico. Read the book by Scott Smith before the movie is released April 4.

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